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Project Clean Stream, Breaking Barriers and Engaging Communities

This spring the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay held its 12th annual Project Clean Stream bringing together communities and watershed organizations for stream and neighborhood cleanups throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Project Clean Stream is an annual stream cleanup that gets volunteers involved with their local neighborhood and the environment and builds personal stewardship connections. By partnering with local watershed organizations, volunteers have the opportunity to continue their environmental stewardship experience long after Project Clean Stream is over and stay involved.

Volunteers work to clear trash and record what they collect from Cat Branch Creek, a tributary of the Little Magothy River, in Annapolis, Md., on April 11, 2015. (Photo courtesy of CBP)

This year, the Alliance and our partners broke records across the watershed by organizing over 44,000 volunteers from environmental groups, neighborhood associations, businesses and schools to remove a record 3.1 MILLION pounds of trash from 2,250 sites across the Chesapeake Bay watershed! This is an incredible increase in participation from 2014 where 7,500 volunteers cleaned 262 sites and removed 425,000lbs of trash. This drastic increase in participation would not be possible without new partnerships that have been forged throughout the winter.

We are grateful to Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful who partnered with the Alliance to engage thousands of volunteers throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and connect them to their local streams and the larger Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Alliance and Moms Organic Market pick up over 2,500 cigarette butts at a light rail station for Project Clean Stream in 2015.

A unique partnership with Keep America Beautiful and Annapolis Green helped bring awareness to the environmental harm smokers cause when they don’t dispose of cigarette butts properly. In Maryland alone, volunteers reported 70,000 individual butts were collected from roads, parks and streams. Cigarette butts contain harmful chemicals and are not biodegradable. A new program, Scuttlebutt, will continue to raise awareness by providing educational materials to smokers, install cigarette butt receptacles around popular smoking areas and provide portable ash trays for smokers and boaters to decrease improper disposal.

Project Clean Stream is supported by committed businesses including Perdue Farms, Dominion Resources Services, Inc., and MOM’s Organic Market. Perdue, in their eighth year as a PCS sponsor, has expanded their participation in Project Clean Stream to a countrywide effort with all of their facilities. This year Perdue engaged over 900 of their employees and removed 31 tons of trash from the communities where they live and work in. Steve Schwalb, Vice President of Environmental Sustainability at Perdue stated, “Project Clean Stream provides an exciting opportunity to engage associates in helping protect the environment in the communities where they live and work, while reinforcing our company’s commitment to being a good corporate citizen. The combined strength of our associates’ efforts has made a tremendous impact in those communities.”

Project Clean Stream volunteers from Perdue stand behind debris they collected from the Coty Cox Branch of Wicomico River in Maryland. (Photo courtesy of CBP)

Project Clean Stream would not be possible without our generous sponsors who help provide not only critical resources needed to organize and make PCS possible each year, but also act as a vital group of volunteers who help out and bring friends and family along to continue to grow the volunteer network of Project Clean Stream and expand its impact and increase local environmental stewardship.

This does not mark the end of Project Clean Stream 2015! This fall we look forward to installing two trash sculptures in Maryland that will serve as a visual reminder of the harmful impact trash has on the ecosystem. Later this month, Project Clean Stream will formally launch a partnership with the WaterReporter App to continuously engage volunteers in reporting the location of trash and help build a database of sites in need of cleaning each spring.

To date, Project Clean Stream has brought over 100,000 volunteers together to collect over six million pounds of trash from local streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Project Clean Stream is designed to accomplish three specific goals: 1) develop Bay stewardship, 2) engage community members and businesses to work together in their local environments to restore the Bay and its watershed and 3) improve and enjoy community Bay-related sites.

Project Clean Stream volunteers often give their service year after year, bringing friends and family with them to clean up more streams each year. (Photo courtesy of Clean Bread and Cheese Creek)

Joanna Freeman, Alliance Program Manager for Project Clean Stream, characterized this year’s event as “an incredible representation of the stewardship inside of all residents. Each year I am amazed by how communities come together to create healthy livable communities for all to enjoy and increase the educational awareness that neighbors share on the importance of clean streams to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. It truly shows the impact Project Clean Stream has on our volunteers to come back year after year with new friends and family to assist in the efforts.”

To start a cleanup or find more information, please visit cleanstream.allianceforthebay.org or contact Program Manager Joanna at jfreeman@allianceforthebay.org or 443-949-0575

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Abbi Huntzinger Maryland Restoration Program Manager, Maryland Office

As the Maryland Restoration Program Manager, Abbi supports the development, design, and implementation of in-the-ground projects that help improve the waterways, habitat, and communities throughout Maryland. She is a Registered Landscape Architect who strives to balance both building strong projects and partnerships.

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